There’s a reason they say that ignorance is bliss.

The above title is taken from a comment on a Youtube video that I watched just before writing this post. It will be linked at the bottom but the part I took from it is that the creator of the video was finding more enjoyment from keeping less plugged into the political and news world.

My first experience of this outside of being a child was on a trip to London in which for a few days I ignored any news. Now it is of course important to be aware of the world around you as it is important to be well informed on topics. It is important for social advancement for people to be aware of what is going on in the world just as much as it is to be aware of the history. Tricks of politicians being an example as with media moral panics.

“why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars. Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” –  Hermann Göring

I am unsure as to if this quote is real but it does spring to mind in regards to Iraq war, a media storm followed by a moral panic which still clearly exists most notably in the U.S.A. So perhaps being well informed is a very important and good thing but does this come at a cost?

Being humans we seem to have two traits in my mind. The first one relates to gossiping and the juicer or more outrageous or negative the better. The media likes the focus on sad stories and I personally see this for three reasons.

  1. They tend to be important stories with great significance
  2. If something potentially or actually effects us we take more of an interest in it.
  3. Feel good stories do not fulfil this as much being more of a novel story unless based on some miracle of heroic act. ‘The micracle plane landing on the Hudson River’ springs to mind.

A recent story that has been in metal-head circles tossed around a lot relates to the proposed picketing by the Westboro Baptist Church of a rather prominent musical figure. As more widely known as the church that picketed military servicemen’s funerals. The topic is more or less the same although the significance is of course subjective. In both cases it is upsetting and it is also rather controversial effecting not us directly but effecting us all on an emotional or personal level. Be that of a person who has died for their country or somebody who has had an impact on others in some other way.

Jeff Hanneman – Slayer.

Rather than looking at the need to have knowledge, or to know what is going on in the world I wonder what this does to us on a personal level. A constant bombardment of negative news with a few ‘sob stories’ often of a motivational nature. Perhaps this contributes to a degree in the need of a person to look at videos of a cat do something cute or humorous.

We all at times need to have a little personal time and for a lot of us a part of that will involve surfing the internet with a lot of information at our fingertips and in many cases a bombardment from news. If not from an RSS feed of the news it will be from Facebook or some other form of media. An interconnected world is hard to switch off for a few hours.

Of course this presents a catch22 position of the benefit of being informed and the benefit from taking a break from all of this. I would argue that it is vital that a person is informed on a wide variety of topics in addition to being able to take a mental break. Being wrapped away from the world is not healthy nor useful but clearly we should also peruse a level of happiness.

Looking towards my own personal example I found I was calmer rather than wondering what will be happening in whatever part of the world or being mildly upset at various stories. A sense of moral indignation also arises and I am sure any reader of this post could sympathise. Although there remains the desire to know and learn more about the world, burying ones head in the sand is not a good idea.

We instead should take a middle ground approach. We should put what we read into perspective not only generally but in our own lives. We also need time reflect on the things that we read in the news in addition to our escapes. This is perhaps why to use video games as an example Call of Duty with it’s Hollywood depiction and ease of play is a successful brand wherein the game Spec Ops: The Line which left a clear lasting impression on me is a rare example in the media form.

So perhaps it is not correct to say that ignorance is bliss but it is also perhaps not far off the mark of what is true. I would assert that it is also true that just because something gives us a sense of ‘bliss’ is not always a good thing. What we don’t know does hurt us and we can’t simply escape the reality of the world we live in. Rather than escaping from the news reading it in chunks on-line and the single block that is the morning newspaper beats the constant barrage that we otherwise subject ourselves to. A middle ground between the extremes of avoidance and news sponge has to be the way forward.

Still in an increasingly integrated world is this simply just something we all need to get used to?

Youtube video which lead to the motivation to post this:

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